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Velocity and Penetration (Read 29382 times)
ozymandias312
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Velocity and Penetration
Apr 4th, 2004 at 2:15am
 
What sort of projectile velocity can be achieved with a sling?

Ancient writers often described almost gunshot-like *penetrating* wounds inflicted by sling missiles (presumably the lead "glans" type.) Was this ability to break the skin and penetrate into the body due to the high striking velocity of the sling projectiles, or was the shape of the projectiles the key?

I would think that to penetrate the skin with a *blunt* projectile would require a striking velocity of *at least* 200 feet per second (a bit over 120 miles per hour, I think). I'm not even sure that would be fast enough for anything but a head shot, where the penetration such as that described in the David and Goliath story might be called a depressed skull fracture.

Could expert ancient slingers sling that much harder than we can now? was there some trick that has been lost?

I've wondered about this for a while. I'd really appreciate any fresh information anyone might have.

Thanks.

Oz
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Johnny
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #1 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 8:56am
 
It seems the Romans had medical instruments to remove projectiles from the body. I've read where Aztec slingers could kill a horse with slingstones. Spanish observers noted that the sling was only slighty less powerful than that of a firearm. If modern day baseball pitchers can throw a ball around 95 miles per hour, I'm sure the ancient slinger could easily double that! I think it is somewhat of a lost art, at least at that speed.
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mgreenfield
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #2 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 9:08am
 
Quote:
Could expert ancient slingers sling that much harder than we can now? was there some trick that has been lost?

Modern forensics may tell us how fast a round lead ball or similar has to be travelling at time of impact to penetrate soft tissue.   This info might not be hard to find in an internet search.

Regarding lost tricks; I assume there are some of these.  The stories that directly claim and indirectly infer great range and accuracy (common?) in ancient times indicate this may be true.    Also, ancient art shows slingers in set-up and immediately-after-shooting poses that none of us use.  Finally, there are tales of shooters' slings cracking like whips when they shot. 

For inferred range/accuracy, consider the willingness of armored foot soldiers to fight with slingers in their rear, slinging stones over their heads into the enemy.  For poses, see Babylonian(?) and other drawings showing slingers set-up to shoot with their thumbs IN the sling pocket.   Our slings are silent.

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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #3 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 10:11am
 
Quote:
Finally, there are tales of shooters' slings cracking like whips when they shot.
 I have noticed that this happens with some slings when I sling powerfully.  I remember techstuf saying that the crack is a miniature sonic boom.  Does anyone else get this effect?  I have known release-node knots on the release cord to come undone due to this (I know it is due to this and not the stone because I was swinging and practising with no stone in the pouch and it happened).  If you swing very violently, powerfully, then this effect happens.  I am sure it is not unknown for everyone else.
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« Last Edit: Apr 4th, 2004 at 11:44am by N/A »  
 
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Hondero
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #4 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 12:08pm
 
The crack of the sling happens when the release cord ends in a little tassel. Is the same than with a wipe, supposed you snap aggresively. I have some Peruvian slings that sounds very well. I think Andean and Tibetan slings generally have tassels, as they are used frecuently only to scare the catle with its sound, without sending a stone.
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He brought a conquering sword..., a shield..., a spear... , a sling from which no erring shot was discharged.&&
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Chris
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #5 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 12:17pm
 
Yea, the crack you can hear with whips is the end breaking the sound barrier.

As for lethality, the sling was definitely a deadly weapon in the right hands in ancient times.  People were exposed to slings all the time (grew up with them) and became naturally proficient, unlike many of us starting later in life.  As johnny notes, pitchers can throw with their arms around 100 mph.  Add a 3 foot extension to that, and you more than double the power.  Add a 6 foot extension and it's like 8 times that power (I don't believe it's linear).  I've read somewhere that it is believe that slingers either built little platforms to stand on, or dug ditches to accommodate longer slings.  Ranges of up to 3000 feet are not unrealistic (Yurek is getting 1500 feet with a 4-foot sling).  With proven projectile designs (the Romans used a very specific american-football-like shape), such ranges seem even more plausible.  And I think projectile shape does matter quite a bit for these ranged shots (more on that later).  

Also, we know that the sling can go through armor and shatter steel (i.e. Spanish swords getting shattered by Aztec slingers during the spanish conquest of meso-America.)

Chris
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« Last Edit: Apr 5th, 2004 at 12:30am by Chris »  
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Yurek
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #6 - Apr 4th, 2004 at 4:11pm
 
Sometimes the crack also is caused by the pouch. It depends of a sling design. My old lost leather sling with pouch made of fat leather, with the bicycle chain on the ear (picture in the gallery) was cracking very nice and loudly. No of my next slings sounded so showily. I suppose it was caused by the release ear which was slaping into the pouch outside.

Every sling has own specific sound. I have noticed that the longer slings (release cords) have a less inclination to snaping. Probably, due to the longer way of the release cord, that causes a bigger velocity loss.

Jurek
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In the shape, structure and position of each stone, there is recorded a small piece of history. So, slinging them, we add a bit of our history to them.
 
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ozymandias312
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #7 - Apr 5th, 2004 at 3:07am
 
Some of the leather slings I fashioned and played with in my younger days would snap, crack, and pop upon release as well. And sometimes the projectiles would buzz or hum in the air, bee-like, or like ricocheting bullets.

But I'm not sure what that proves. Even if some part of the tip of the released thong of the sling broke the speed of sound (which I understand to be about 1100 feet per second at sea level) like a whip's tip, I don't know that that proves the projectile itself even approached such a speed.

However, if ancient slingers could achieve even a mere *300* feet per second striking velocity, that *might* account for the effects reported. I have read that the .41 caliber Deringer that John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln only had a muzzle (starting) velocity of about 450 feet per second, but it sure killed the hell out of Lincoln.

Oz
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Chris
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #8 - Apr 5th, 2004 at 6:49pm
 
The buzzing sound projectiles sometimes make is due to oddly shaped ones spinning through the air.  It produces a sound as it essentially "slaps" the air as it rotates. 

The cracking of the cords or pouch could be similar to a whip breaking the sound barrier.  I wouldn't know how to prove that though.  Certainly the projectiles aren't reaching those speeds.

The thing that makes bullets quite deadly is the fact that they are small, dense and pointy, which equals more penetration force.  Rocks are often big, not as dense as lead or copper, and may not be pointy.  Speed is only a tangential factor, further reducing the effectiveness of a sling projectile.  However, because we can potentially have much much heavier projectiles than a typical gun, the blunt force impact can be just as deadly.

Chris
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WalkingBird
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #9 - Apr 5th, 2004 at 11:09pm
 
ozymandias312
Chris is quite right here. The sling is so effective not so much for the reason of pure speed, but rather because of the weight of sling projectiles.
I have used the sling time and again to tear fair sized branches off trees, have pulverized the bark on black oak trees. Not something to be taken lightly.
Sling projectiles gain energy at the square of the speed like all others. but at the same time, because there are lots of limiting factors in the sling / human operation the main factor in the damage they can do is due to the weight of the projectiles at speeds acheivable with the sling.
I'm like you in that I'd also like to know what would be a reasonable speed reache by the average slinger. Inquireing minds want to know.


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Chris
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #10 - Apr 6th, 2004 at 12:13am
 
On the Discovery Channel / BBC documentary I assisted with, their slinger got up to 80 MPH (tested with equipment).  However, I wasn't impressed with his slinging style.  I'd assume a typical slinger could approach 100 mph with people like Yurek conceivably approaching 300. 

Chris
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #11 - Apr 6th, 2004 at 2:22pm
 
FYI:
100 mph = 146.7 fps
150 mph = 220.05 fps
200 mph = 293.4 fps
200 fps = 136.36 mph
300 fps = 204.54 mph
400 fps = 272.72 mph
500 fps = 340.9 mph

I think I've gotten to at least 200 mph, because it seems to be the speed of a paintball round, and that's pretty standard at 300fps.

Alternately, you could sling into a target on which penetration data is available, arriving at the foot-pounds, and from there, knowing most of the other variables (stone weight, distance etc), probably deduce velocity. Just a thought...
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #12 - Apr 6th, 2004 at 2:39pm
 
Chris
Who was the guy(slinger) on the BBC documentary?
Thanks
Johnny
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nwmanitou
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #13 - Apr 6th, 2004 at 3:38pm
 
80mph? hmm
In 7th grade I could throw a Whiffle ball 72mph. I did it at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. I'd wager that I could get close to 80mph with just my arm.  To bad we can't get a chronograph and actually time some of the people on this board.
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Chris
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Re: Velocity and Penetration
Reply #14 - Apr 6th, 2004 at 7:49pm
 
Alan Birkbeck, a mechanical engineer workling at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Chris
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